Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Review of Outcasts

Here's a description of the book from Goodreads:

"The remnant from Glenrock is now living as rebels within the Safe Lands, looking for a way to find purpose in their lives. When a young rebel is murdered and his death points to a rebel leader, it's hard to know who to trust.

Levi tries to organize a plan to free the children and fights for respect as elder over those who'd rather go their own way. Omar tries to change his image of a traitor by donning a costume and going out into the night as a vigilante hero. And Mason stumbles onto a shocking secret about the Safe Lands meds, but his investigation just might get them all liberated."

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

As exciting as the cover suggests, Outcasts is a highly engaging middle novel for "The Safe Lands" trilogy, with superb characterization. Once again, the story centers on four POVs: three brothers (Levi, Mason, and Omar) and a young girl named Shaylinn - pregnant and lonely, but still striving for purpose and hope despite her life as an outcast from the society that took her and her people captive.

I enjoyed this one even more than Captives (Book 1), with "enjoy" being a relative term, since Outcasts is just as gritty as its predecessor. I'm amazed at Williamson's ability to so vividly depict not only this futuristic world (in wonderful detail), but also the unique personalities and motives of her characters. Each one struggles with uncertainties and weaknesses, and yet each one is drawn so compassionately that, while often cringing at their choices, I couldn't help but root for them. The POV character I probably connected with the least was Levi, but even still, he had his moments that showed his heart and his authentic frustrations. I think I'm currently most interested in Omar and Shaylinn's story - there's a lot of angst and room for redemption and growth there!

The overarching plot is intricate and intriguing, and the storyline for this book built up nicely to an epic conclusion, leaving enough resolution to satisfy and enough of a cliffhanger to make the reader eagerly anticipate the release of Book 3 (Rebels) this summer (2014). This series has a little something of everything - romantic drama, thought-provoking relationship dilemmas, a colorful but chilling setting, an aura of mystery, quirky plot elements, and plenty of danger and adventure.

While the references to drugs, addiction, and physical relations might make this a little too mature for some young readers, all of those things are dealt with tactfully (nothing explicit) and yet honestly. This book certainly leaves plenty of room for discussion (even including discussion questions in the back), and shows the pain of a life and world centered first and foremost on the pursuit of personal pleasure.

For an imaginative dystopian series peopled with relatable characters and filled with disquieting situations for them to face, consider visiting "The Safe Lands."

*With thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing me with a temporary e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

2 comments:

Kate said...

Thanks for the review! I ordered this one a couple of days ago from Amazon and I'm impatiently waiting for it to show up. It sounds great!

Amber Stokes said...

Kate,

My pleasure - thanks for reading! :) I'm the same way waiting for a book to arrive... Hope your copy comes soon! I believe it will be worth the wait for you. :)

~Amber